Zion Williamson, arguably the most highly-touted NBA rookie since LeBron James, will miss a significant part of the upcoming season.
The New Orleans Pelicans, who picked the 19-year-old as the No1 overall selection in this year’s draft, confirmed Williamson underwent surgery on Monday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Williamson has dealt with a number of minor knee issues in the last 12 months. He lasted only eight minutes in this year’s summer league after a collision with an opponent – the Pelicans said they withdrew him as a precautionary measure. He also missed time for his college team, Duke, last season after his sneaker fell apart during a game and he suffered a knee sprain.
The 6ft 7in, 284lbs Williamson has gained attention for his strength, athleticism and highlight-reel dunks. He pulled off a number of spectacular moves in the pre-season for the Pelicans and averaged 23.3 points per game.
The NBA season starts on Tuesday, and Williamson had been due to showcase his skills in a primetime game against the defending champions, the Toronto Raptors.